Women steal the show in Philadelphia 'American Ninja Warrior' qualifiers
Michelle Warnky, Jesse "Flex" LaBreck, Rachael Goldstein and Allyssa Beird are all going to the Philadelphia city finals.
Yes, that's right. Monday night's "American Ninja Warrior" episode sent four women to the city finals, and Philadelphia became the second city this season to send more than one woman past qualifying.
And Philly was a particularly tough qualifying course. Only eight people completed, the lowest number of any regional qualifier this season. With so few finishers, the game became reaching the fifth obstacle the fastest, and praying that completion was possible. (Worth mentioning: Monday night's fifth obstacle was the most difficult of this season.)
For Warnky, falling on the fifth obstacle is a familiar and bittersweet feeling. She became the second woman to finish a city qualifying course in Season 6, but the gym owner fell on the fifth obstacle in Seasons 5 and 7.
"I definitely am grateful for each year, as I know any obstacle can trip someone up," Warnky said in a phone interview. "[Falling on the fifth obstacle] is just rarely what I want to do or feel like I'm capable of doing."
Goldstein, LaBreck and Beird certainly didn't look like rookies as they ran the course Monday night, and Warnky isn't surprised one bit.
"We knew we had such good quality women," Warnky said, "so it was awesome to see that show itself, by having four women make it."
Philadelphia regional specs:
Female finishers: 0
Women moving on: 4
New or modified obstacles: 3 out of 6
The Floating Steps led Philadelphia, as they have in each city course. Competitors must jump up five separated steps before swinging on a rope to the next platform.
This Log Grip is back! Ninjas wrap themselves around a suspended log and ride it through two drops before dismounting to the platform.
The balance obstacle is another returning challenge, the Paddle Boards. Competitors run across the paddles, which tilt under pressure.
The Wall Drop is another newbie. Using their grip strength, ninjas move through hanging objects to a wall they must climb. From the wall, they drop to a trampoline to propel them to a hanging cylinder. Using the momentum from the swing of the cylinder, they maneuver over another wall and to the next platform.
Rolling Thunder was a true ninja killer, for those who were able to get there. Ninjas jump from a trampoline to a suspended bar, then grab onto a spinning wheel. Using only their upper body, they must roll the wheel down the track by moving their hands along the spokes. As if it wasn't hard enough, every third spoke is filled with Plexiglas, forcing the competitors to reach around it.
The Philadelphia course also ends with the taller version of the infamous Warped Wall, standing at 14 feet, 6 inches.
Next week, we head back to Los Angeles for the first of the city finals courses. That means the return of Jessie Graff and Natalie Duran, two fan favorites who are always threats to do well on any obstacle course.